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The trials and tribulations of being wed to a compulsively neat spouse

The headline in Weekly Playboy (June 17) reads, "The Association of Victims of Konmari-wives." "Konmari" is the nickname of Marie Kondo, the world-renowned cleanup consultant and bestselling author who encourages people to bring joy into their lives by through organization and neatness in their workplace and living environment.
Some men, unfortunately, find themselves wed to spouses who are under the spell of Kondo, which means they've become compulsive in their neatness. And when the hubby's back is turned, who knows what treasured possession might disappear into the trash.
Weekly Playboy posed the question, "Have you ever experienced your wife discarding something that was important to you, or selling it to a pawn shop or or on the web?" Out of 1,000 married men who responded, 182 replied in the affirmative. These, then, earned the right to call themselves Konmari victims.
According to Masumi Nakamura, an "organizing consultant," Konmari's system basically involves sorting one's home possessions into five categories: clothing, books, documents, small items, and keepsakes, and then discarding those which are determined unnecessary.
"But I don't have the courage to follow that system," Nakamura tells the magazine. "I'm more likely to do the opposite and decide what it is I want to hang on to. As I touch each one, I ask my heart if it brings about some tokimeki -- a term that literally means heart palpitation, but which Kondo translates into English as "to spark joy" -- and if so, I keep it."
The ultimate goal, Nakamura thinks, should be to live while surrounded with items that spark joy. Even, presumably, at the sacrifice of neatness. 
Weekly Playboy introduced a case of a 41-year-old man whose wife discarded a pair of sneakers he never wore, but which happened to be a rare collector's item.
"From around the start of this year, my wife got hung up on the whole notion espoused by 'Konmari,'" he relates. "I know this because she repeatedly nagged me to read her book."
"Then one day she asked me, 'Why don't you get rid of those sneakers? You know, the ones in the closet you never wear?' I told her to lay off, and thought that was the end of it, but I didn't count on her determination.
"Not long after that, unawares to me, she threw them away! They were collector's items that could have sold for three times the list price. I contacted the rubbish collector hoping it might be possible to retrieve them, but they were gone.
"'Those shoes were valuable!' I screamed at her. 'How could you do that?' 'But you never wear them,' she countered. But I got in the last word, so to speak, by telling her, 'Just owning them sparked plenty of joy for me.'"
In a second case, a 42-year-old self-employed man kept a cardboard box full of mementos of a cutesy female aidoru (idol) whom he'd had a crush on in his youth. His wife decided they needed space for the new baby's room, so the items went in the rubbish.
"'How could you?' he yelled at her, furiously. 'Those were treasures from when I was a kid!' At first she was apologetic, but then tried to rationalize, saying 'You can't cling to the past. Let's try to spark joy with things in the present.' It was then I realized she'd been watching Konmari on TV, which had set her off on a rampage of discarding things. I still harbor bad feelings about it."
The aforementioned Nakamura offers this analysis: "In the above case, the Konmari method refrains from discarding things due either to attachment toward the something in the past, or anxiety toward the future. For mementos of the past that are no longer being utilized, she recommends tossing them out all at once."
The article concludes that Kondo may deserve the worldwide praise she has garnered for putting a positive spin on the drudgery of home cleanup chores. But still, these persistent "Konmari wives" need to devote a little more understanding to their hubby's feelings before they start tossing out his musty treasures.


© Japan Today
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